Martin Dym




Biochemistry and Molecular and Cellular Biology


Male germline stem cells, the sperm precursors, are critically important in the field of stem cell research for two major reasons. The sperm carry the male genome and eventually it will be possible to modify the genetic profile of the germline stem cells and thus transmit the transgene to the next generation. In addition, it has recently been demonstrated that male germline stem cells can be induced to pluripotency similar to embryonic stem cells. Pluripotent stem cells can develop into any of the three major tissue types: endoderm, mesoderm, and ectoderm. Thus, human male germline stem cells also have great potential for cell-based autologous organ regeneration therapy for various diseases. Dr. Dym’s main research interest is to understand the factors that regulate the renewal, differentiation, and dedifferentiation of adult male germline stem cells.

A number of years ago, we reported that male germline stem cells could be coaxed in culture to differentiate to sperm attesting to their unlimited potential (Generation and in vitro differentiation of a spermatogonial cell line. Science 297:392-395, 2002). Now with the original work of Dr. Guan and colleagues (Pluripotency of spermatogonial stem cells from adult mouse testis. Nature 440:1199-1203, 2006), these cells can be induced to revert back to ES-like cells, again attesting to their unlimited potential. We are using male germline stem cells in humans to produce embryonic stem (ES)-like cells (Golestaneh et al. Pluripotent stem cells derived from adult human testes. Stem Cells Dev. 2009 Oct;18(8):1115-26. The intent is to obtain large numbers of ES-like cells that will proliferate in culture and then can be differentiated into other cell types for use in stem cell therapies.